Talks restart on Dubai’s $33 billion airport expansion following pandemic

Dubai International Airport
Daniela Collins /

The $33 billion expansion of Al-Maktoum International Airport (DWC) is once again under consideration after the Covid-19 pandemic stalled the project  

According to the media portal Meed, officials connected to the project have been in discussions to restart the Emirate’s largest construction venture.  

Dubai’s airport expansion slowed when the country’s focus moved to preparing for Expo 2020 and instability in the price of oil. 

The project eventually ground to a halt due to the pandemic and contracts to begin the work were never signed.  

The number of passengers using the airport in 2022 is still 23% less than in 2019 according to Airports Council International (ACI). 

However, on April 5, 2023, AIC announced that Dubai remains the busiest airport for international passengers in the world. In 2022, 66 million passengers boarded and deplaned at the airport, this was followed by London (58 million) and Amsterdam (52 million).  

“While US airport hubs were able to recover quicker due to their strong domestic market, we are now witnessing global hubs joining upper ranks—including Dubai, Istanbul, and London Heathrow airport,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.  

“While we continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery, the latest rankings represent an important milestone in reaching pre-pandemic levels.” 

The expansion of the airport is seen as a way to boost investment and increase the number of passengers coming to Dubai.  

Saudi Arabia’s growing aviation industry is also considered a threat to Dubai’s dominance in the region. Plans to complete King Salman International Airport in Riyadh by 2030, plus the launch of a new national carrier, Riyadh Air, reflect Saudi Arabia’s plans for huge aviation growth. 

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